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Posts Tagged ‘Pete Sampras’

Rafael Nadal made history in winning the French Open yesterday in Paris. In doing so he became the first man in history to win the same Tennis Major 8 times, as he won his 8th French Open title.


Nadal created history in Paris yesterday, by becoming the first male tennis player to win 8 titles of any particular Tennis Major.

Nadal created history in Paris yesterday, by becoming the first male tennis player to win 8 titles of any particular Tennis Major.


Prior to winning his 8th French Open title, Nadal, Roger Federer and Pete Sampras jointly held the record of 7 titles of a particular Tennis Major, with Sampras and Federer each having won Wimbledon 7 times. Other tennis players have won the same Major 7 times before tennis became open in the late 1960s (I’m not including them as they were sometimes not competing against the best players who were barred by having turned professional).

I have to admit, because I am such a big fan of Roger Federer, I probably haven’t given due credit to how good a tennis player Nadal is. When he is playing against Federer, I always want Federer to win. But, just as Federer has made history in winning more Majors than any man in history, I wouldn’t be surprised if Nadal carries on setting records. Maybe one day he will surpass Federer’s record for the most major titles won, which currently stands at 17. Whether Federer will be able to add to this total before he retires we shall have to wait and see. I for one will be rooting for him at Wimbledon in two weeks’ time.

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After yesterday’s semi-finals, we now know the line-up for the 2012 Wimbledon Men’s final. 6-times champion Roger Federer against the Scot Andy Murray. It will be Murray’s 1st Wimbledon final, although he has made it to the final of a Major three times before (twice in the Australian Open and once in the US Open). Although Murray is a fellow Celt, I will be shouting for Roger Federer, my favourite player of the last decade.

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Roger Federer in his jacket celebrating 15 Major titles.

This will be Andy Murray’s 1st Wimbledon final and his 4th Major final. He is yet to win a Major.

Federer has the chance to set a number of records on Sunday. Should be win, he will increase his record of Major titles to 17, widening the gap between him and the previous holder Pete Sampras, who won 14 in his career. He will also equal Pete Sampras’ record of 7 Wimbledon titles. Thirdly, he will become only the 3rd man behind Sampras and Rafa Nadal to have won a particular Major 7 times (Nadal achieved this by winning the French Open for a record 7th time this June). And lastly, should he win on Sunday, he will go back to being Number 1 in the World rankings, which will mean he will beat Pete Sampras’ record of the most weeks ranked as World number 1.

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Pete Sampras shaking hands with the man who would eclipse his Majors record, Roger Federer.

Why am I such a big fan of Federer? For me, he is the most complete tennis player I have seen since John McEnroe. I know that is a pretty big statement to make, but it is my opinion! His range of shots, his ability to either play at the baseline or come to the net, is something I don’t feel I’ve seen since John McEnroe. Also, his touch. He has a level of skill and touch with the ball which again, I have not seen since John McEnroe. Sure, in the last 2-3 years Federer has increasingly lost to Nadal and, this last 12 months, to Djokovic. But, without taking anything away from these players, I find they rely more on power, speed and strength rather than the range of shots Federer has. Also, just for Federer’s backhand, he deserves a place in the list of the very best tennis players. As someone who never managed to master a decent backhand, I am in awe of the power and precision he is able to get on his backhand. It is the finest men’s backhand I have ever seen, with Justin Henin having the best women’s backhand I can remember ever seeing.

Should Federer win on Sunday, and thus achieve the list I made above of accomplishments and records, where does it place him in the list of all time tennis greats? It is so difficult (impossible) to compare players from different eras. Not only has the game changed, with the development of modern, more powerful rackets, but also the tournaments have changed. If Djokovic had won the French Open in June he would have become the 1st player since Rod Laver in 1969 to have held all 4 Majors at the same time. Although Federer and Nadal have won all 4 Majors, they have not held them at the same time. And, even if Djokovic had won the French Open, he would not have won all 4 Majors in the same calendar year. Again, Rod Laver is the last person to have done this, in 1969.

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Rod Laver, the only man in the Open era to have done the Grand Slam (winning all 4 Majors in the same calendar year).

What is remarkable about Rod Laver’s achievements is that he did the calendar Grand Slam twice, in 1962 and 1969. And, he didn’t play any of the Majors in the period 1963-1967 as he was banned from playing them, as he turned professional after his 1962 Grand Slam. In 1968 tennis went “open” (allowing professionals to play) and Laver won Wimbledon in that year (note: the Australian Open in 1968 did not allow professionals, the first Major to be open to professionals was the French Open of 1968). The following year, he won the Grand Slam, the first player (male or female) to win it in the Open era, and the only male player to have done so. One can only speculate how many Laver could have won, if he’d been allowed to compete during those years from 1963 to 1967.

However, one has to also remember, and this is not to take anything away from Laver’s remarkable achievements, that in his day 3 of the Majors were held on grass, the only one which wasn’t was the French Open. Additinoally, the Australian Open was held in December at the end of the year, and very few Northern Hemisphere players used to bother going to Australia for it, making it a much easier tournament to win than it is today.

Ultimately I think trying to compare players from different eras is impossible. One can talk about records, number of titles won etc. But even that depends on who is around at the same time. Federer finds himself playing at a time when the level of competition from Nadal and Djokovic is very high, it may be that in Laver’s day he did not have such fierce competition.

I am too young to remember Rod Laver, but I grew up admiring the skill and touch of John McEnroe. He wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, due to his frequent outbursts at officials. But, I always saw this as his perfectionism, and also the fact that most of the time he probably did see the ball better than the line judges.

For me, the greatest display of tennis I have ever seen is his victory over Jimmy Connors in the 1984 Wimbledon Men’s final. He completely destroyed Connors, playing as if possessed. He won 6-1, 6-1, 6-2. He himself says it is the best match of tennis he has ever played, every shot he tried came off, and some of the shots he tried were unbelievable. Bearing in mind that Connors was the no. 2 in the World at the time, the gulf between the standard of tennis of the two in that match is truly remarkable.

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John McEnroe, holding the Wimbledon Men’s title cup, which he won in 1981, 1982 and 1984.

The entire 1984 final between McEnroe and Connors seems to be available on YouTube, split into multiple parts. Here is the 1st part:

But, although I would dearly like Federer to win on Sunday, I am in a bit of a win-win situation, because if Andy Murray wins he will become the first Celt to win Wimbledon ever, and we Celts have to stick together. 🙂

UPDATE

Federer wins 3-1. Well done Federer!

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From today’s (Monday the 9th of July 2012) Daily Telegraph newspaper.


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Today sees the semi-finals of the men’s singles at Wimbledon. Or, to be more correct, the gentlemen’s singles. The line up is Roger Federer (seeded 3) v Novak Djokovic (seeded 1) in the first match of the day, then Andy Murray (seeded 4) v Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (seeded 5) in the second semi-final.

I am a huge fan of Roger Federer. Ever since he won his first major tournament, Wimbledon, in 2003, I have found him to be the most complete player if his generation. Recently he has lost his dominance, initially to Rafa Nadal, and now also to Novak Djokovic, but I still find him to be a more skilful player than these two. He is, of course, the all time record holder of the most number of Major titles won by a man – 16. This includes 6 Wimbledon titles, just one short of the record of 7 held by Pete Sampras.

Roger Federer, 6 times Wimbledon champion, and the no. 3 seed this year.

Novak Djokovic, the defending Wimbledon champion,and no. 1 seed.

Of course, here in the Disunited Kingdom, the media are in a frenzy over Andy Muarray’s chances of finally winning a Major title. Certainly his path to the final has been eased by the defeat of Nadal last week in the 3rd round. But Tsonga will not be an easy opponent, his game suits grass very well.

The Scot Andy Murray, no. 4 seed. Murray has got to 3 Major finals, but has never won one.

Tsonga, who has never reached a Major final, is seeded no. 5

Should Andy Murray get to Sunday’s final, he will be the first British male player to do so since Bunny Austin in 1938! Yes, this is how long Britain has been starved of a World-class male tennis player. And, you have to go back to 1936 for the last time a British man won Wimbledon, Fred Perry won the last of his three titles in that year.

Since the introduction of the roof over Centre Court, completing the semi-finals today is guaranteed. So, by this evening we will know whether Roger Federer is still on course to get his 7th Wimbledon title, and whether Andy Murray can emulate Bunny Austin in reaching a Wimbledon final.

Update

Both Federer and Murray won by 3 sets to 1, so will meet in Sunday’s final.

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It is one of the biggest upsets in Wimbledon history. Rafa Nadal, recently crowned as the seven times winner of the French Open (the most ever), lost in the 2nd round of Wimbledon last night. He lost to an unknown from the Czech Republic by the name of Lukas Rosol. I missed the 1st set, but saw the match from that point on. Rosol narrowly lost the 1st set on a tie-breaker, after apparently having 3 set points. But, he went on to win the 2nd and 3rd sets to take a 2-1 lead.

Rafa Nadal winning his 7th French Open title in June 2012

Nadal fought back to win the 4th set, so levelled the match 2-2. By this time it was closing in on 9pm, so the Wimbledon officials made the sensible decision to close the roof and allow play to continue into the early part of the night. Closing the roof and getting the humidity down with the air-conditioning system means a delay of about 30 minutes, which only added to the tension.

When the players came back on court, it was Rosol who came out of the blocks the quickest, continuing the high level of tennis he had played in all but the 4th set. It is not that Nadal played badly, but Rosol outplayed him, and thoroughly deserved his win.

Lukas Rosol beats Nadal in one of the biggest upsets in recent Wimbledon history.

This is probably the biggest upset at Wimbledon (at least in the men’s tournament) since 1996, the year Dutchman Richard Krajicek beat Pete Sampras in the quarter finals, the only defeat Sampras suffered at Wimbledon between 1993 and 2001, during which time he won 7 titles (the most ever at Wimbledon).

My own current favourite player, Roger Federer, hopes to equal Sampras’ record; he currently has won 6 Wimbledon titles in his 16 Major titles, and I am sure would dearly love to equal and then pass Sampras’ Wimbledon record so he can go down at the greatest Wimbledon champion in history.

Roger Federer showing his 16 Major titles (6 Wimbledon, 1 French Open, 5 US Open and 4 Australian Open)

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